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A Prominent Woman Activist Jailed For Leading A Peaceful Protest

By Burma Campaign UK  •  September 5, 2013

Burma Campaign UK today urged Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire MP to call in the Burmese ambassador to Britain to question him regarding why people are still being arrested under the right to protest law in Burma. Burma Campaign UK also urged the Foreign Office Minister to demand the military-backed government to secure the immediate release of Naw Ohn Hla and to repeal all the repressive laws which put political prisoners in jail.

As part of the No Political Prisoner Left Behind campaign, Burma Campaign UK is highlighting a case of a political prisoner every month to draw attention to hundreds of political prisoners still in jail. The political prisoner for this month is Naw Ohn Hla.

Naw Ohn Hla is a former political prisoner and a leading member of the Democracy and Peace Women Network, which campaigns for women’s rights, equality and democracy in Burma. She is an outspoken activist and well known for holding weekly prayer protests at the Shwedagon Pagoda from 2004 until she was arrested for taking part in the Saffron revolution in 2007.

On 13th August 2013, Naw Ohn Hla and her supporters were arrested for staging an unauthorised protest against the Letpadaung copper mine project. Naw Ohn Hla went ahead with the protest after being refused nine times by the police for a protest permit.

The Letpadaung project is a venture between China’s Wan Bao Company, the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd and the Burmese government. It has resulted in land confiscations, environmental degradation, and the implementation of a policy of arresting and harassing peaceful protestors.

Naw Ohn Hla was charged under Article 18(b) of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law and section 505(b) of the penal code for committing or inducing others to commit an offense against the State or against the public tranquility. She was sentenced to 2 years in prison under Section 505(b) and her trial continues for a remaining charge. She is serving her prison sentence in Monywa prison in Central Burma while awaiting her trial.

“The jailing of Naw Ohn Hla shows that the international community shouldn’t be falling for Thein Sein’s meaningless promises,” said Wai Hnin, Campaigns Officer at Burma Campaign UK. “Activists in Burma are still facing arrest and harassment by the military-backed government. If President Thein Sein is really genuine about reform, he should start by repealing all the repressive laws which put political prisoners in jail.”

Action can be taken here.

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This post is in: Press Release

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